Small businesses in Australia continue to push the boundaries of our ‘glocal’ economy. The ShortPress Small Talk series profiles a diverse range of small businesses to find out what they do and what makes them tick.
Sydney’s café scene is heaving, and those hoping to break onto the scene often think twice. But not Edrick Santos of Forest Lodge’s In The Annex. We caught up with the café owner to get the lowdown on what he’s learned from his venture so far.
ShortPress: Describe your small business in less than 50 words.
Edrick Santos: In The Annex is a café in Sydney’s Forest Lodge.
SP: What inspires you as a small business owner?
ES: As more cafés pop up everywhere these days, I feel we’re still able to give an experience that exceeds most other cafes in Sydney. This is mainly attributed to the many years in the industry each staff member brings with them. On my days off I like to try other establishments, be it other cafes, bars or restaurants and see what we could incorporate to what we do naturally.
SP: What does a typical day look like?
ES: Well, the café opens 7am on weekdays and I get in at 6.15am to get everything ready. Then it’s make coffees until the breakfast rush and as soon as that’s over it’s the lunch rush. We close at 4.10pm to get out by 5pm. Every week I also write the staff roster and do some banking.
SP: What have your biggest challenges been so far and how have you overcome them?
ES: In addition to the day to day operations of the café, we sometimes do events. I’m actually trying to organise a pop-up at the moment and trying to please everyone seems a near impossible task. Luckily, though, we have a great team and I have a great business partner in Theo to help with the workload.
SP: What have been your biggest learnings so far?
ES: I’ve learned that you can be very profitable or very creative and sometimes they are the same thing. More often than not, however, you need to find that one thing (or two) that is your real money maker –sell that fiercely and exercise your creativity in other areas.
SP: If you could start over again, what would you do differently?
ES: If I could start over I’d replace myself as soon as possible and work more on the business side of things. As it stands now, customers often ask where I’ve been when I take one or two days off.
SP: What advice would you give to budding small business owners?
ES: I would tell people thinking of starting a small business to work for at least one year in the best proponents of the industry they want to get into. In my case, I’ve worked for more than 10 years in some of the best cafés in Sydney and London.
SP: Name the business leaders you look up to and why.
I think people like Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, is great at compacting what works and deleting what doesn’t, both in business and in life.
Gordon Bizar is one of the best people to look to if you want to leverage anything be it your time or money.
Also, Steve Jobs, for being able to work out what people really wanted and delivering that creatively.
SP: Where to now for In The Annex?
ES: Well now that we have a stable business and a name for ourselves we’re looking to take on other venues such as the Eternity Playhouse.
Photos courtesy of In The Annex.